Upon hearing the Zen master’s words, the scholar was both overwhelmed and humbled. For years, he had reveled in his accomplishments, priding himself as a beacon of knowledge. Yet, he had never fathomed that his cup might be too full to accept more.
Knowledge Overflow: The Zen Monastery’s Tea Cup Lesson
Noticing his discomfort, the master handed him a cloth to wipe his face. “Holding knowledge isn’t the flaw,” began the master with a measured tone, “The flaw is in not leaving room for further learning and humility.”
The scholar dedicated several months at the monastery, imbibing not just the teachings of Zen, but the value of listening and keeping an open mind. He discerned that every individual, irrespective of their stature or education, had a lesson to offer him.
Gradually, he began assisting with the monastery’s daily chores, from sweeping floors to aid in the kitchen. One day, as he washed dishes, a younger monk approached hesitantly.
“Master,” the young one began, “I’ve heard of your academic feats and wish to learn from you.”
The scholar, with a gentle smile, set an empty cup before the novice. “I am willing to share my knowledge,” he stated, “but first, tell me what you see in this cup.”
The young monk grinned, saying, “I see an empty cup, poised to be filled.”
With a knowing smile, the scholar retorted, “That’s how we should approach learning. Always ready and receptive to new experiences. Ensure your cup is never too brimming to take in more.”
In that humbling moment, the scholar, once proud of his profound knowledge, transformed into a true master, leaving an enduring imprint of wisdom and humility on the Zen monastery and on all those he encountered.